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Title: Implicit priming of conflicting motivational states in heavy drinkers
Author: Baker, Samantha
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2013
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Background: Theories of motivational conflict are key in understanding alcohol misuse. Research suggests that approach and avoidance motivation are two distinct systems and that level of alcohol consumption depends on which system is most activated at one time. One factor thought to influence this balance is the role of implicit processes. This study aimed to investigate the effects of implicitly priming one motivational system (i.e. approach / avoidance) on the opposing system in regard to alcohol-related motivation in heavy drinkers. Methods: Heavy drinkers were recruited from a non-clinical community sample to complete a protocol of stimulus response compatibility and visual probe tasks designed to measure implicit motivation by recording reaction times to alcohol cues. Participants were assigned to one of three groups and attempts were made to manipulate implicit motivation using a masked priming paradigm. Measures of explicit attitudes towards alcohol were also administered. Results: No significant effects of priming were found. The overall sample showed attentional avoidance for alcohol cues presented at 50 ms duration but not at 500 ms. On the SRC task, participants were slower to avoid alcohol cues than neutral cues. Positive correlations were found between attentional bias for alcohol cues presented for 500 ms on the visual probe task and craving and consumption as measured by the Alcohol Approach Avoidance Questionnaire (AAAQ) and the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) respectively. Significance: Implicit priming of alcohol-related motivational states had no influence on indices of alcohol approach and avoidance motivation or on attentional bias. As an overall sample, heavy drinkers showed automatic attentional avoidance of alcohol cues presented at short durations (50 ms). This is the first study to find avoidance of alcohol cues presented at this duration in heavy drinkers.
Supervisor: Dickson, Joanne M.; Field, Matt Sponsor: Wellcome Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry